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NFL morning after: Peyton Manning is just fine, thank you

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Broncos coach John Fox was asked last week, What’s wrong with Peyton Manning’s arm? Fox got a good laugh out of that question, and it’s a good thing he enjoyed it. Because he probably won’t get that question again.

Manning demonstrated on Sunday against the Raiders that he’s just fine, thank you: More than capable of carving up an opposing defense and leading his team to a big win, which is exactly what he did in completing 30 of 38 passes for 338 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, as the Broncos beat the Raiders 37-6. Fox said afterward that he’s seeing just the kind of weekly improvement from Manning he expected from a player who had to sit out the entire 2011 season with a neck injury.

“He’s getting more comfortable,” Fox said. “Let’s not forget he didn’t play for over a year and this is a new team, new coaching staff, new city, new field, new everything for him. The type of guy he is, he’s going to get better and better.”

Is it possible that Manning has lost a little speed off his fastball? Maybe. But Sunday’s game demonstrated that any talk that Manning no longer had an NFL-quality arm after last year’s neck surgeries was every bit as laughable as Fox made it out to be. And anyway, Manning has always beaten opposing defenses more with his head than with his arm. After a year away, Manning looks like more or less the same player who won four league MVP awards in Indianapolis. Manning’s passer rating so far this season is 96.9 — better than the 91.9 rating he had in 2010, his final season with the Colts.

Up next for Manning is a trip to New England for a Sunday showdown with a Patriots team that was his biggest rival when he was in Indianapolis. When Manning and Tom Brady are squaring off, we’re seeing two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history on the field. And while both Manning and Brady are still playing great football, the reality is that they’re the two oldest starting quarterbacks in the NFL right now, and we probably won’t get many more opportunities to see them playing against each other. So when you watch Broncos-Patriots on Sunday, savor the greatness you’ll see from these two quarterbacks.

Here are my other thoughts on this week’s NFL action:

Cam Newton’s touchdown record may only last a year. As a rookie in 2011, Newton set a new NFL record for touchdown runs by a quarterback in a season, with 14. But Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is on pace to top that this year, with four touchdowns in four games. Griffin, who threw for 323 yards and ran for 43 yards in leading his team to a 24-22 win in Tampa Bay on Sunday, is the best athlete ever to play the quarterback position, and it’s easy to see him continuing to average a touchdown a game for 16 games this season — but only if he stays healthy enough to play 16 games this season. Griffin is so confident in himself that he takes some reckless chances with his body when he runs up the middle, and sometimes he takes violent hits. Eventually, he’s going to need to learn that if the end zone is not in reach, he needs to get down, or else he’ll be spending more time on the sideline than in the end zone.

Welcome back, real refs. Ed Hochuli’s bulging biceps were a sight for sore eyes Sunday, and so were the rest of the regular referees, back to work after the NFL wisely ended the lockout of the officials. All those baffling penalties and foolish mistakes from the replacement refs were a thing of the past, and for fans watching at home, it was especially nice having the real referees move the games along quickly: Most of the games that kicked off at 1 p.m. were over before the 4:05 p.m. kickoffs, something that didn’t happen on any of the first three Sundays of the season. Unfortunately, the Packers — who were ripped off by the replacement refs last week — were saddled with the worst regular ref in the NFL, Jeff Triplette. A week after the Packers were robbed of a victory over the Seahawks by the replacement officials, the Packers were nearly robbed of a victory over the Saints by Triplette and his crew. Green Bay overcame major officiating mistakes including a Saints fumble that was wrongly ruled down by contact and an obvious push-off on a Saints touchdown catch that was somehow not called. If bad officiating had cost the Packers another game, there might have been a riot at Lambeau Field.

When Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is inducted into the Hall of Fame some day, Jeff Backus should introduce him. Backus, the Lions’ longtime left tackle, knows better than anyone how hard it is to block Allen. Because Backus has to do it twice a year, and Allen always gets the better of him. Last season, Allen had three sacks in each of the Vikings’ two games against the Lions. On Sunday, in the Vikings’ 20-13 win over the Lions, Allen had a sack and three tackles for loss. There are few bigger mismatches in the NFL than a one-on-one battle between Backus and Allen.

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith looks like the first pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Smith had an absolutely insane stat line against Baylor on Saturday: 45-of-51 for 656 yards, with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Smith has a good arm, he’s a good athlete, and he’s an intelligent young man who should be a quick study in learning an NFL offense. A lot can change between now and April, but Smith looks like the kind of player who will make NFL scouts drool.

Rex Ryan had the quote of the day. Describing his Jets’ loss to the 49ers, Ryan said, “I was going to say we got our butt kicked, but really, we got our ass kicked.” Ryan was in too bad a mood to avoid profanity, and it’s hard to blame him. The Jets lost 35-0 and looked like a mess.

I can’t believe the Cardinals are 4-0. And I also can’t believe the Saints are 0-4. But that’s what makes the NFL so fun: We spend all offseason obsessing over coaching changes and free agency and the draft and training camp battles, and we’re sure we know how the league stacks up this year, and then by the time the season is a quarter of the way over, impossible things have happened. Like a team we knew was bad starting undefeated, or a team we knew was good starting winless, or an aging and injured quarterback still playing like a great one.

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37 Responses to “NFL morning after: Peyton Manning is just fine, thank you”
  1. davidcl77 says: Oct 1, 2012 7:53 AM

    I could throw against the Raiders! Wait til they play another NFL team.

  2. dcsween says: Oct 1, 2012 7:56 AM

    Watching the Skins at Buccs, I was really pleased that the returning officials made quick calls and, after the TV replay, accurate ones.

    Now I want real announcers to replace these scabs doing the color commentary and play-by-play.

  3. VikesPrincess (Lisa) says: Oct 1, 2012 8:21 AM

    Can we stop talking about the Packers “being robbed of victory” in Seattle?

    If that team were any good, they could have won decisively at any time. They could have protected their quarterback. They didn’t lose the game on ONE call.

    Man – I am so tired of hearing the homer media, the Packer fans and the Packer players whine about that game.

  4. ewoods6 says: Oct 1, 2012 8:26 AM

    We can put the Peyton jokes and doubts to bed ladies.

  5. ewoods6 says: Oct 1, 2012 8:27 AM

    Davidcl77….i guess the 330 yards and 2 TDs against the Texans doesn’t count? I know they’re only 4-0 and all…..IDIOT

  6. southpaw2k says: Oct 1, 2012 8:28 AM

    Okay, I must confess that I don’t know much of anything about Geno Smith, but if both he and Barkley declare for the draft do you really think a team needing a QB would take Smith over Barkley? When was the last time a quarterback from West Virginia went on to have a quality career in the NFL (Pat White, anyone?)

    Smith’s line is pretty absurd in a video game sense. But I’d still be pretty shocked if he went high in the first round.

  7. dawsonleery says: Oct 1, 2012 8:44 AM

    Raiders have no pass rush, no CBs and they run the “Greg lets all take a Knapp offense”, which goes 1,2,3 & out. Manning has no chance vs actual Playoff teams. Just look at the Falcons and Texans games.

  8. promickey says: Oct 1, 2012 8:44 AM

    Well everybody seems to be fine against the Oakland Raiders even the Miami Dolphins.

  9. niners816 says: Oct 1, 2012 8:46 AM

    The Jets actually lost 34-0. But it was still fun to watch!

  10. mrbigass says: Oct 1, 2012 8:48 AM

    He carved up the Raiders which Gabbert could do.

  11. tlmoon2112 says: Oct 1, 2012 8:49 AM

    I will put the Peyton jokes and doubts to bed when he stops making stupid commercials for products I dont want. The guy is a total dork, get him off my TV screen please. I will not buy a Papa Johns pizza, NFL Sunday Ticket, a Buick or any other product this dork tries to sell me….period.

  12. dapell says: Oct 1, 2012 8:54 AM

    Not only does Allen humiliate Backus every single time we play the Vikings, Scott Linehan wets the bed as well. The Vikings scored 6 points on offense yesterday and the Lions couldn’t muster up enough points to win. May have had something to do with the fact Minnesota can always stop our running game and Linehan just keeps calling slow-developing running plays anyways. Some teams just don’t match up well for one side or the other, and the Vikings are that team for the Lions. Also, fire Danny Crossman. How about some accountability like you preached all offseason Jim Schwartz? I guess that only extends to guys so bad they probably shouldn’t be on the roster in the first place (Aaron Berry), and not your coaching staff or TE’s who drop 2+ balls a game. Why is Crossman still employed? Why isn’t Pettigrew sitting on the bench?

  13. dkrause71 says: Oct 1, 2012 9:04 AM

    Can we stop talking about the Packers “being robbed of victory” in Seattle?

    If that team were any good, they could have won decisively at any time. They could have protected their quarterback. They didn’t lose the game on ONE call.

    Man – I am so tired of hearing the homer media, the Packer fans and the Packer players whine about that game.
    ———————————————————-
    Its wasn’t one call. The last drive alone
    1) Shields pass interference call was blown. If anything Rice interfered. A no call would have made that drive much harder for Seattle. A PI on Rice and generally that would have ended Seattle’s chances.

    2) The Tate push off to even have a shot to catch the ball.

    3) The Tate/Jennings “catch”.

    Calls get blown. I think we all get that. The Packer pick that was reversed on that Walden BS roughing the passer. The Packer getting a PI to help score their touchdown was poor too but that last drive was directly helped out by blown calls over and over.

  14. rabidbillsfan says: Oct 1, 2012 9:09 AM

    southpaw

    RG3?? Thats who ge reminds me of. It’s a passin leauge, and barkley has some questions about how realistic his numbers really are. He has great weapons, but throws alot of screens and short passes. Yes, welcome back real refs. it was evident in the bills game ( may sound like sour grapes, but this is true) that the brady bromance from the refs is back in full swing. Kyle williams gets flagged for a roughing call by litterally hitting brady at the exact time the ball is leaving his finger tips, he hit him low, but he crawled into him. Brady gave the refs the classic look, and in came the flag. Then, on his td scramble, he was obviously short, but the call wasn’t overturned. Again, welcome back real refs.

  15. VikesPrincess (Lisa) says: Oct 1, 2012 9:13 AM

    dkrause71 says:

    Its wasn’t one call. The last drive alone
    1) Shields pass interference call was blown. If anything Rice interfered. A no call would have made that drive much harder for Seattle. A PI on Rice and generally that would have ended Seattle’s chances.

    2) The Tate push off to even have a shot to catch the ball.

    3) The Tate/Jennings “catch”.

    Calls get blown. I think we all get that. The Packer pick that was reversed on that Walden BS roughing the passer. The Packer getting a PI to help score their touchdown was poor too but that last drive was directly helped out by blown calls over and over.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    On the other hand, the Packers (if they had a high-powered offense like they think they do), should have scored at will several times during the first half.

    Instead, many of us were able to laugh 8 different times when ARodge was sacked repeatedly.

    If a team that is allegedly good can’t put up enough points so that a blown call or two doesn’t matter… then they’re just not that good. Example: the Packers almost lost to the Saints yesterday. A crazy holding call is all that kept them from losing. Proving my point yet again.

  16. archetypeobscure says: Oct 1, 2012 9:20 AM

    Manning may or may not be reaching his end physically, but when people question his ability for an entire week, who’s really surprised when he comes out and looks better than he’s ever been.

  17. mrmanuel99 says: Oct 1, 2012 9:27 AM

    It’s called playing the Oakland Raiders… They make every QB look good…

  18. somekat says: Oct 1, 2012 9:29 AM

    The refs were terrible, but since this site, like so many others, is ridiculously pro-union (in all cases), they will pretend it wasn’t. This is league wide, not in any specific game. Phantom calls all over, WR are now allowed to rape DB’s, while DB’s can’t lay a hand on them. Roughing the QB is back to being different for differnt QB’s. These guys are hacks, and are no better than the “scabs” they replaced. If anything, the “scabs” were better, at least they knew they could/would be replaced.

  19. alewatcher says: Oct 1, 2012 9:41 AM

    The NFL must have been thinking about Jeff Triplett and his crew when they wanted to be able to replace under performing referees. That was one sorry game they called against GB last night.

    Heck, I’m a Bears fan and even I think they got jobbed.

  20. stairwayto7 says: Oct 1, 2012 9:49 AM

    Raiders def backs are horrible! When Manning goes against average db’s there will be a int, good to great db’s 2 ints+!

  21. steelerfanforlife says: Oct 1, 2012 10:05 AM

    2 points(I’m sure no one wants them but here they are anyways)
    1. Not diminishing what Peyton did yesterday but every QB looks like a HOF’er against the Raiders this year
    2. I know things will probably change but right now the Saints and Browns are the worst teams in the NFL. I know the Saints wouldn’t draft Geno Smith but would the Browns take a QB in the 1st round for 3 straight years??

  22. mogogo1 says: Oct 1, 2012 10:08 AM

    southpaw2k says:

    Okay, I must confess that I don’t know much of anything about Geno Smith, but if both he and Barkley declare for the draft do you really think a team needing a QB would take Smith over Barkley?
    _____________

    You also don’t seem to know much of anything about Barkley. He’s got a bad habit of coming up small in big games and is reminiscent of Leinart and Sanchez–guys who were labeled can’t miss right up until they stepped onto an NFL field.

  23. truths4all says: Oct 1, 2012 11:03 AM

    Its time to drop the Packers crying about the bad call at the end of the game with the Seahags. Let’s be honest, the lousy replacement refs gave the Packers many bad calls on the Seahags, especially the pass interference call that led to the Packers only TD. The replacement refs were bad on both teams. Get over it Packer fans, both sides got cheated and your team did not play well enough to win, period. Time to move on to try to win your division, especially when the Vikings are starting to get some momentum.

  24. Spencer says: Oct 1, 2012 11:09 AM

    Let me know when Peyton beats a good team.

  25. murf17 says: Oct 1, 2012 11:18 AM

    Thank God he won bc then all we would have heard from the Raider “fans” is we told you he was washed up. He sucks blah blah blah. Guess what the Raiders are actually the team that sucks like everyone predicted. I was so amused during the weeks after Manning signed that the Raiders would break his neck and cart him off the field. The Broncos were told to FEAR SEYMOUR! He was taken out of the game yesterday because he was so ineffective. Don’t point to who had who on the field. The broncos lost their center during the game and their starting LB was suspended. McFadden got 35 yards. Let that sink in. 35 yards. Raider fans suck and so does your team. Live with it because your season has no hope and you can focus on the A’s.

  26. broncsfan72 says: Oct 1, 2012 11:37 AM

    we’ll be getting in touch with you next week Spencer.

  27. doctorlb says: Oct 1, 2012 11:39 AM

    Stupid Statement of the Day:
    ” Griffin, who threw for 323 yards and ran for 43 yards in leading his team to a 24-22 win in Tampa Bay on Sunday, is the best athlete ever to play the quarterback position”

    Maybe you should wait for 5, or maybe 6, games to make that proclamation.
    Sheesh!

  28. peytonwantsaflag says: Oct 1, 2012 11:41 AM

    He’s UP! he’s down. is it going to be like this all year? (I’m talking about the PFT writers of course)

  29. pilonflats says: Oct 1, 2012 11:55 AM

    I watched 4 games with the “real refs” and all of them were officiated horribly. Their blown call could have caused another green bay controversy and the officials in the Raiders game were so bad, they appeared to be spotting the ball where they felt like it, instead of where it should be. An entire officiating crew (and the bobble heads in the booth) did NOT know that when a ball carrier loses his helmet the play is immediately over. How did they not know this? Shoudn’t EVERY official have the rule book memorized?

  30. fmwarner says: Oct 1, 2012 1:00 PM

    Geno Smith put up ridiculous numbers, but if you watched the game you saw that he was basically throwing practice balls. On most of those 8 touchdowns, he enjoyed a clean pocket for at least five seconds, and nobody was within five yards of his receivers.

  31. indyshepherd says: Oct 1, 2012 1:51 PM

    “The guy is a total dork, get him off my TV screen please. I will not buy a Papa Johns pizza, NFL Sunday Ticket, a Buick or any other product this dork tries to sell me….period.”

    Funny how all of those stupid dorks and nerds in life are the ones out making millions…. Just saying my friend.

    Keep cashing those checks, Peyton. The NFL could certainly use a few more roll models like you …

  32. malvaren18 says: Oct 1, 2012 2:09 PM

    Where are all the hater’s now

  33. cdboss says: Oct 1, 2012 3:55 PM

    The Cards 4-0. Who would have thunk it. Let that sink in.

  34. packerbadger says: Oct 1, 2012 3:59 PM

    VikesPrincess, do you actually understand the game of football? Seattle has the best secondary in the NFL. They have 3 probowlers back there. Three blown calls is a HUGE difference maker. Can’t wait till Vikelings get to Lambeau!

  35. diamondmo33 says: Oct 1, 2012 4:00 PM

    I’ll be the first to admit:I was wrong about manning’s arm.his passes were as crisp,tight and powerful as I remember when he was down here in Indy.my bad.

  36. hpfreddy says: Oct 1, 2012 6:28 PM

    What’s amazing is the Cardinals are now in the soft part of their schedule and they could be 7-0 going into the week 8 game with SF. Weeks 8,9 & 10 (SF, GB, Atl) will tell us if the Cardinals are for real or not.

  37. truthserum4u says: Oct 2, 2012 6:27 AM

    southpaw2k says:Oct 1, 2012 8:28 AM

    Okay, I must confess that I don’t know much of anything about Geno Smith, but if both he and Barkley declare for the draft do you really think a team needing a QB would take Smith over Barkley? When was the last time a quarterback from West Virginia went on to have a quality career in the NFL (Pat White, anyone?)

    —————————————–

    When’s the last time a QB from USC went on to have a quality career. Palmer has had a some good seasons but overall has fallen short of expectations (maybe due to injury?). Sanchez, Leinhart, Cassel, Booty, Rob Johnson, Marinovich, Salisbury, Haden?? I guess Rodney Peete & Vince Evans had quality careers, but neither were worthy of the first overall draft pick.

    I don’t think either school has a good record with NFL QBs, so you have to go with what the prospects bring individually.

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